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to the farm test Tom Cherveny firstname.lastname@example.org BENSON -- Mary Jo and Luverne Forbord took 30 acres of good cropland and decided it's time to find out: Are productive conservation and bioenergy for real, or are they just the buzz words of the day? So far the quest for that answer has been "frustrating," Luverne Forbord acknowledged as he led a couple dozen visitors recently on the Prairie Horizons farm between Benson and Starbuck.
Here comes yet another book about Adolph Hitler. Hundreds have been written about the madman, scholars keep digging away to find even more about him. This one's called "Killing Hitler," by Roger Moorhouse (Bantam, $25). I've read tons of Hitleriana, but I must say Moorhouse has convinced me that I've still missed a great deal. Everyone's heard about the famous plot to kill Hitler during his trip to the Eastern Front, led by Claus von Stauffenberg.
Authors who take apart a region or a community have always been dear to my heart. It all began when I was in high school and my English teacher said I should not read novels by Sinclair Lewis, who was an agnostic and a drunk. So I went right out and checked out his novel "Main Street." The town he wrote about was his own, Sauk Centre, Minn., but he called it Gopher Prairie. He nailed that town dead to rights. It was just like my hometown, full of well-meaning people with a rather narrow view of the world. Later on, I read "Winesburg, Ohio," by Sherwood Anderson.
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Historian A.K. Sandoval-Strausz has written a fascinating study of hostelries in "Hotel: An American History" (Yale University Press, no price). It's his theory that Americans, not Europeans, set the standards for hotels in the 19th century due to several outside forces, including political. In the course of this scholarly book, general readers will be fascinated with individual hotels they may have stayed in or wanted to stay in or were refused entry to. You don't hear about Statler Hotel these days, but 50 years ago magazines were full of ads for the Statler chain.
Sure, I know. Noel Coward is a superficial fop. But he's a superb superficial fop. So when "The Letters of Noel Coward," Barry Day, ed. (Knopf, $37.50) arrived in the mail, I dove right into the correspondence to and from the guy who wrote about mad dogs and Englishman going out in the noonday sun. The collection is voluminous, with letters to and from George Bernard Shaw, T.E.
It's not just because I live near Maiden Rock, Wis., and have escaped from the Twin Cities, that I like the police stories of Mary Logue, the Twin Cities' poet and memoirist.
I've always been fascinated by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, ever since I read "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" by Gertrude Stein and "The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook," by Alice B. Toklas. The first is a tour de force in which Stein really writes about herself, but titles it using her partner. That ploy enables her to have Toklas "write" stuff like this: "I have known only three geniuses in my life -- Pablo Picasso, Alfred North Whitehead and Gertrude Stein." Not bad, eh?
My friend Lou Gland, retired Ombudsman at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, called me the other day after a silence of several years. "What's the occasion, Lou?" "I just read a story in the New York Times and it made me think of you." "What was it about?" "It asked the question 'Are Book Reviewers Obsolete' and the answer was 'Yes they are.'" We both had a chuckle over that, but the state of book reviewing is at a critical juncture.
A plan to require all Minnesota school districts to join an insurance pool passed the Senate 43-23, sending it to the governor. When insurance is pooled like in the bill, the theory is that it would cost less. Opponents said districts should not be forced to join the pool, as well as expressing fears that there would be too little oversight. Some suburban lawmakers said their districts would suffer, while those in western Minnesota would see big benefits.